Dead or alive?: Social Security planning a year after Bipartisan Budget Act

Katie Godbout, Director of Sales & Marketing
December 13, 2016
    

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The reports of the death of Social Security planning have been greatly exaggerated. A year after its passage, we look at how the legislation’s elimination of two key Social Security claiming strategies has impacted clients and financial advisors.

When lawmakers passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 in October of that year, predictions circulated that the practice of helping clients maximize their Social Security benefits would wither and possibly even die.

The budget deal eliminated or phases out two popular claiming strategies — the file-and-suspend strategy and the restricted application strategy. With these strategies gone, many in the financial planning profession asked, “why spend time and money on a disappearing practice?”

Here’s why. A year later, demand for the service has not waned, clients still can benefit from claiming strategies, and you can still grow your business by offering Social Security claiming advice.

The proof is in Social Security Timing® reports. We analyzed the software’s reports — using a sample taken before the legislation’s passage and a sample taken after — to see if clients were still able to save a significant amount of money by utilizing Social Security claiming strategies.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 90% of Americans start collecting Social Security retirement benefits at or before their Full Retirement Age, with the most popular age to start being 62, the earliest age possible. So we took a sample of 2,500 reports and compared the amount that married couples would receive if they claimed as early as possible to the amount they’d receive if they utilized the suggested strategy as calculated by the Social Security Timing software.

Before the Bipartisan Budget Act, the average difference was approximately $150,000. In other words, by utilizing claiming strategies, couples on average received $150,000 that they would not have, had they done what most Americans do — claim early.

A comparable sample taken after the Bipartisan Budget Act shows a slight dip in that figure — the average difference was $114,820. Even so, this is a significant savings. Wouldn’t you rather help a married couple find $114,820 extra in retirement income than none at all? Clearly, the Bipartisan Budget Act has not decimated the opportunities still available to clients and to you.

When you show clients how much money they would lose by claiming early, you build trust and earn their business. Social Security remains a key income source for American retirees, and incorporating claiming strategies into comprehensive retirement income plans is not only the right thing to do to extend their retirement income, but also a smart way to grow your business. Advisors who didn’t abandon Social Security planning have reaped the benefits of staying the course, and will continue to. You’ve heard the figure: each day, 10,000 baby boomers retire and begin receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits. Do you want them to miss out on retirement income they could receive with good advice or to lose thousands because you didn’t run the calculations? As we’ve said before, good advice will be even more important because the rules are now a lot more complicated. Social Security Timing provides the software, the training and support, and the community for you to seize the opportunity easily and affordably.

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Posted by Katie Godbout, Director of Sales & Marketing
Katie thrives on making an impact and achieving big goals. She believes that communication strategy has a major impact on business success. As a strategic communicator with a diverse background in non-profit, B2B, healthcare, and SaaS, Katie combines her expertise in strategy development, marketing and sales to spread the word about how Covisum can help advisors and institutions inform their clients of the best financial decisions.